Get your chocolate fix

Looking for a chocolate fix? Go Dr. No.

I (virtually) met Amale, the woman behind this amazing chocolate, last year. We chatted via email a bit and I learned that she wants to help people suffering from cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses live happier lives. She really wants to make a difference in our world and has a heart of gold. And really, what better way to spread the happiness than with good-for-you chocolate?

What makes it different?

How cute is this stamp?

Dr. No Chocolate is 75% cocoa and organic with a rich and smooth taste. It makes a perfect treat for diabetics or those eating low carb because it’s sugar-free and void of artificial sweeteners. It’s also gluten free and doesn’t contain artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

The chocolate comes in three delicious flavors: Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Seed & Sea Salt (my favorite!), and Almonds. I love the salty-savory combination that the pumpkin seeds and sea salt add to the sweet chocolate – such a unique and delicious treat! If you have a HUGE sweet tooth, I recommend the variety pack so you can try one of each and pick your favorite!

Great for gifts, baking, or snacking when you’re craving something sweet. You won’t believe it’s sugar-free!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Dr. No Chocolate. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Smooth or crunchy?

It’s the age old PB question, but it fits with almond butter too. I’m a smooth gal myself, and my mom likes crunchy. There’s no compromise here; it’s either one or the other.

Fortunately, most companies have caught on. One of these, Barney Butter, has so many awesome flavors and unique combinations such as Vanilla + Espresso, Honey + Flax, and Cocoa + Coconut. Whether you’re looking for super smooth, chunky, or somewhere in between, they’ve got you covered.

IMG_20160831_082253

One of my favorite afternoon snacks.

Barney Butter’s almond butters are made with fresh California almonds in a peanut-free and Certified Organic facility. They are also Certified Vegan, Certified Gluten-Free, and Non-GMO Project verified (other than the Honey + Flax). I love that the company uses recycled, BPA-Free jars that can be reused for on-the-go snacking.

Barney Butter comes in snack packs (perfect for on-the-go) and jars (perfect for every day, baking, and eating with a spoon!) Check out their site for a full list of products.

Sometimes you just need a cookie!

Here’s a recipe that’s easy to whip up with ingredients you probably have on hand.

Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter Cookies

1/4 cup brown sugar20170412_181909

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, sofened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3-1/2 cup Barney Butter Vanilla + Espresso Almond Butter
1 cup gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, beat sugars and butter until smooth.
3. Whisk in vanilla and egg, then almond butter.
4. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.
6. Form dough into 1″ balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet, flatten. (Dough may be sticky.)
7. Bake for 6-8 minutes.
8. Let cool and enjoy!

Visit Barney Butter online for fun recipes with all of the creative almond butter flavors.

 

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored, in part, by Barney Butter. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions (and the recipe) are my own.

Cut those cravings 

Talking about your…*cough*…time of the month…*cough*…used to be really taboo. It was kind of like discussing your salary – something you kept private and maybe only shared with one or two people close to you. Now there are products and commercials galore related to women’s health, including everything from vitamins and pain reducers to all things feminine hygiene.

But what about those brutal cravings? You know, the ones that hit you when you’re just minding your own business watching Netflix? Suddenly, chocolate covered sea salt and vinegar kettle chips with a side of strawberry cheesecake ice cream sounds like the best idea EVER. The guilt, the shame, the horror.

Well, ladies (and guys who have rollercoaster PMSing ladies at home) your prayers have been answered.

PMS Bites is a company founded by Boston entrepreneur Tania Green. The idea for her healthier chocolate treats developed from her own desire to curb PMS cravings, or better yet, satisfy the feeling without the guilt. Tania’s products have been featured on Shark Tank and in the Huffington Post and Allure.

PMS Bites are gluten free, vegan, all, natural, and great-tasting. They also contain herbs (chamomile, Siberian Ginseng, dandelion root) that are used to ease PMS symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and mood swings. One PMS Bite (Plain Crazy) is only 70 calories and contains just 7 grams of sugar. It’s a satisfying and healthier option – one you don’t have to feel guilty about.

Bites are affordably priced at $9.99 for a six pack and shipping is FREE! There are three flavors: Coco-Nutty (rolled in coconut), Plain Crazy (dusted with coco powder and coconut palm sugar), and All Kinds of Nuts (made with yummy pecans). If you want to try them all, you’re in luck – just go with the variety pack and try two of each.

For more information or to purchase a pack for yourself or a special someone, visit pmsbites.com.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PMS Bites. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

 

Go ahead, get ENLIGHTENED

wp-1471915824478.pngI would (possibly) give my right arm for a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream – it is my absolute favorite. There’s just something about that cool, minty feeling you get when you take the first bite. It’s magical. (It could also be that no one in my family likes it, so I know it will be safe in the freezer when I’m not around!)

Beyond Better Foods started serving their ENLIGHTENED Ice Cream in 2013, with the idea that they could offer products that go beyond just “better” for you. When I learned they made a Mint Fudge Swirl ice cream bar, I had to try it. With 7g of protein and only 6g of sugar and 80 calories, how could I not? The verdict: Run, don’t walk, to your nearest grocery store and pick up a box for yourself. This was honestly the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s so creamy and delicious, you would think you are over-indulging in a full-fat treat (but, of course, you’re not!). Pure Heaven.

This year, Beyond Better Foods developed ENLIGHTENED Crisps, adding to their healthy line of Good-For-You foods. These broad bean crisps come in enticing flavors such as Sriracha, wasabi, and mesquite BBQ. But wait, they’re beans…how do they taste? Crunchy. Flavorful. Satisfying. Much like potato chips, I bet you can’t eat just one!

If you’re like me and you want to try them all, go for the ENLIGHTENED Crisp Sampler, reasonably priced at under $9.00. Crisps are only 100 calories per serving and are packed with protein (7g) and fiber (3g), which makes them a fantastic on-the-go snack. They are also  “certified vegan, gluten free, non-GMO Project verified, OU kosher, and wheat free.” (And for those of you on Weight Watchers, the crisps are only 2 points!) 

Beyond Better Foods is very open and honest about all of their ingredients and you can read about them right on their site. I love their Us vs. Them page, which lists the nutritional values of other ice cream and snacks compared to theirs. See for yourself which is healthier – it’s a no-brainer.

For more information or to purchase the crisps (ice cream only sold in stores), visit eatenlightened.com. For recipes and more, check out their blog.

Happy Snacking!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Beyond Better Foods / ENLIGHTENED. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

You copycat!

Larabars are one of my favorite snacks, but the ones I like (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip) are not Whole30 approved. I thought about making my own, subbing cashews for the peanuts  and leaving out the chocolate chips. Then I found out there is already a Larabar for that – Cashew Cookie. I eagerly tried it, but can’t say I enjoyed it.

So after doing a little research and modifying a recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring, I came up with my own version – the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and satisfying. Just dates, cashews, coconut oil, and a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt (see above pic). 

First, crush cashews.

Next, add remaining ingredients.

Then, press dough into parchment-lined pan. Chill.

Finally, cut into bars and enjoy!

No baking, no cooking. Seriously, it doesn’t get much easier. And, it just happens to be one of the most delicious treats I’ve made – healthy or not. 

Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo also makes her on version called “Liar Bars,” which she sometimes shapes into balls and rolls in coconut. Sounds super yummy and I’ll have to give them a try!


Whole30 guidelines recommend these snacks on an occasional basis. So, try one recipe or try them all, but don’t eat them all in one sitting – even though you’ll probably want to!

Sugar, sugar

I have been on the hunt for the perfect sugar cookie for almost a decade – that’s more than 1/3 of my life! Everyone on Pinterest claims to have the best recipe, but I beg to differ. I’ve tasted some that were downright terrible. 

It all started when a neighbor brought over some of her homemade cookies. They were a secret family recipe for an old fashioned butter cookie cutout. And, no, I couldn’t have the recipe. 

Even though I falsely identified them as sugar cookies, they were ah-mazing! And thus began my crazy obsessive search for a replica of those sugary butter cookies. I’ve never tasted one even half as good since.

I’ve tried dozens of cookies, dozens of recipes (including several flops of my own) – ones with sour cream, cream cheese, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, almond extract, vanilla – you get the idea. Nothing. I always end up disappointed. Some were okay, some good, but none were “the one.” 

Last weekend I played around with a few recipes, and practically shoved still warm cookies in my family’s mouths. I think I found a keeper, but the search for “the one” is still in full force. 

For me it’s all about the balance: salty and sweet, soft and flaky, buttery and dense.  I like a smooth cookie without that crumbly texture. One that’s thick and chewy and made for cutouts, but still melts in your mouth and leaves you craving more. 

 Does this magical recipe exist?
(cookie pictured: almond sugar with cream cheese frosting)

The dairy dilemma 

I didn’t find out that I was lactose intolerant until I was in my 20s, but looking back it all makes sense. If I ate ice cream late at night, I would be up around 2am with terrible stomach cramps and pains.  If I ate oatmeal with milk in the morning, I would throw it up at school.  If I drank strawberry milk, which was my favorite, well…let’s just say that to this day even the smell of strawberry milk makes me nauseous.

Why didn’t my family realize? Like most people in the 90s, there wasn’t enough education out there.  Even the school nurse thought I was a faker because I would ALWAYS be in her office for stomach pains.  I was in agony in elementary school.

Today, parents rush their children to the doctor or hospital for a little cough. But even so, we are truly blessed to have the resources we do in 2016, and have come a long way in 20 years.  Today there is more action and understanding.  Why couldn’t I be a child of today?

I like cheese, I love pizza, and I’m smitten with mint chocolate chip ice cream, but milk is the enemy to me and about 75% of the world’s population.

Did you know that humans are the only species that consume milk after age 2? And milk from a different species at that!  In a country where we are so concerned what breast-feeding women ingest, we let our cows ingest genetically modified grain, antibiotics, and food waste that, no doubt, appear in their milk supply.  Besides just being “bad,” milk is full of sugar and fat.  It is biologically engineered to help a baby grow into a strong toddler and a calf grown into a full-size cow.

I just re-read Skinny Bitch, and those authors are a pair of pretty scary chicks.  They attempt to alarm their readers into veganism, with all their gruesome facts.  If you’ve read it, you understand.  If you haven’t, I’ll spare you the details.  I’m not sure about going full vegan, but I can do without the milk.  It’s my kryptonite.

So why do we still crave and devour milk products? Well, because doctors, nutritionists, and even our parents try to tell us how good it is:  it builds strong bones, provides us with calcium, and makes us grow big and strong.  Remember hearing that?  I do.  But there are better ways of getting calcium – think broccoli, kale, figs, and oranges.  (I’m serious – eat your fruits and veggies.)

And, putting that aside, milk products taste really, really good. Cream cheese on a bagel, whipped cream on hot chocolate, vanilla ice cream on apple pie, the list goes on.  Milk is tasty…to the point of becoming an addiction.

Luckily there are also some pretty tasty milk alternatives – almond, rice, and coconut milk, to name a few. In recent years, and even months I have been finding awesome substitutions at the grocery store. Think pizza and ice cream!  You name it and I bet there is a sub.  And, if you’re lucky enough, the sub will actually taste pretty damn good (Insert wink face emoji.)  Manufacturers are finally starting to catch on.

Some BIG name brands are getting really good with dairy free substitutions. Daiya is a new brand that I love!  They make yogurt, cream cheese, pizza, mac and cheese, and more.  Totally vegan.  Even Ben & Jerry’s has stepped up and introduced a line of vegan ice cream.  Delicious.  And I’m sure more brands will follow suit.  There’s a big market for it.

Hurrah for the dairy free people of the world!

(Note: It’s worth it to say that dairy free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  There are a lot of processed subs out there that are probably even worse than the real thing.  As always, be mindful of the ingredients, keep everything in moderation, and when in doubt – eat real food.)